We have the hospital bag packed and we are ready to go. Since it is round two for us, our bag is a lot smaller than it was last time. I've got the comfy P.J.'s that are breastfeeding friendly, light robe, yoga pants, slippers and socks, maternity going home outfit and toiletries. The great part about giving birth in the hospital is all the post-delivery "goodies" they provide such as witch-hazel pads, epi-foam, maxi-pads, spritz bottle, and the glamorous disposable underwear. Not sexy but comfortable and they are disposable so you aren't ruining your own underwear if you happen to soak through your pad. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you will soon.
I've packed baby girl some warm P.J.'s, couple onsies and a going home outfit with a few cute little bows. None of these are even necessary but a girl needs to be brought into this world with a little style, right? Our hospital provides receiving blankets, long-sleeve onsie and diapers so I'm leaving those out this time. Don't forget the car seat!
For breastfeeding I've decided to bring my own nursing pillow this time. It was tough getting the hospital pillows to squash in just right last time and when you're trying so hard to get that good latch and keep your body relaxed I think this would have been a real help. I'll also be bringing my own lansolin cream and my new CoveredGoods nursing cover for when we have guests visiting. Last but not least, we will be bringing a copy of our birth plan. This is something I am fairly confident I would have overlooked in my first pregnancy had my sister-in-law not recommended we write one up.
Why is it important to have a birth plan? Well if you are someone who has done a lot of reading, preparing and envisioning how you want your labor, delivery and post-birth to go then you'll want everyone else who is going to be a part of that process in on your vision. Nobody can read your mind and when you are in the middle of laboring the last thing you want to be doing is trying to verbally communicate this to everyone over and over again. If you are planning to give birth at a hospital I feel it is even more important to have your plan written out for the staff. I have never worked in a hospital so this is not coming from personal experience but I would think they've got a pretty routine way of doing things and if you have specific wishes that don't fit into that routine it can simply be overlooked or it may be assumed differently. This isn't the hospital staff's fault, they are just doing their job the way they know how to do it. That's why it's important to write everything down so everyone is on the same page.
Keep in mind, just because you have something written down in your birth plan does not mean all your wishes will be granted. Write your birth plan ahead of time and talk to your doctor or midwife about it and see if you have realistic expectations. Trust your doctor and the hospital staff that they have you and your baby's best interest at heart and that they know what they are doing. Be flexible because the most important thing at the end of the day is that you and your baby are safe and healthy.
In my birth plan, which I am happy to share with anyone who requests it, I outline each stage of labor and what my preferences are. Let's go through some ideas to think about when you are writing your birth plan.
- Outline how you would like to manage pain whether it be an epidural or the use of breathing techniques, distraction, bath/shower, massage/aromatherapy, music, etc.
- Would you prefer for your water to break on its own or be broken artificially if not medically necessary?
- If inducing or augmenting labor becomes necessary, which techniques would you like to try first? Administering medication such as Pitocin or non-medicated including stripping of membranes, walking, castor oil, sex, etc.
- Do you want to be given intravenous fluid (IV)?
- Fetal monitoring - intermittently or continuously?
Second-Stage Labor (Transition)
- Although episiotomies seem to be scarcely used these days, you can include whether you would prefer not to have an episiotomy unless strongly recommended by your doctor.
- If you are giving birth at a hospital or birthing center feel free to list the birthing equipment you would like made available to you such as a birthing tub, birthing ball, squat bar, etc.
- List ways you'd like support for an intact perineum including controlled pushing/breathing, perineal massage, warm compress in between contractions/pushing.
- Do you want a mirror made available to you so you can watch your progression or not?
- Vacuum extraction or forcep use
- How quickly after delivery do you want to hold your baby?
- Would you like to have routine Pitocin offered to you after the delivery?
- Do you prefer to cut the cord right away or delay?
- Do you want to breastfeed immediately after birth? Or would you like to formula feed?
- How would you like dad to participate? Help with cutting the cord? Help with the first bath?
- Would you like vaccines administered to the baby or wait until you take your baby to the pediatrician?
- How would you like visitors regulated?
Then I go into some of the unexpected events.
- Although it is common practice for the spouse to be in with you, you can list this as a must. Same with requesting that the baby be given to you or your spouse as soon as the baby is dried (assuming the baby is healthy).
- List whether you would like to have skin-to-skin time and breastfeed as soon after surgery as possible.
- If baby is taken to a different hospital you may want to include that you'd like your spouse to go with the baby.
- Include whether you would like to provide the baby's milk if possible through bottle, dropper or tube.
Remember, each hospital and birthing center is different in their approach to certain birthing practices. Many tend to promote as much skin-to-skin contact and breastfeeding on demand but its never a bad idea to have your preferences written down just to confirm these things with them. To ease anxiety, I would encourage you to take a tour of the labor and delivery unit you will be delivering at and ask a friendly nurse some of your questions.
Here is an online birth plan template available for free (The Bump: Birth Plan Worksheet) or if you'd like to see a copy of my birth plan I will be happy to share it with you! Happy baby prepping!